President: Baku, Kyiv engaged in high-level political dialogue [UPDATE]
By Ayya Lmahamad
President Ilham Aliyev has underlined very serious progress in Azerbaijan's relations with Ukraine and said that the two countries have high-level political dialogue.
He made the remarks while making press statements with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, following the ceremony of signing documents on Kyiv as part of his visit to Ukraine.
“I am very glad that there is very serious progress in Ukrainian-Azerbaijani relations. We have a high-level political dialogue. … As a result of the wide-ranging exchange of views we had..., I am confident that we will witness new and wonderful events in the near future,” he said.
Mentioning that February 6 will mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Aliyev noted that Ukraine and Azerbaijan have always supported each other, each other’s independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty. He emphasized that this support is reflected in the Joint Declaration signed on January 14, 2022.
“Our peoples are bound together by friendly ties, and as you know, there is a great interest and respect for the culture of the Ukrainian people in Azerbaijan. This respect can also be seen in Baku. A monument to the great Ukrainian son Taras Shevchenko has been erected in one of the central parks of Baku. … At the same time, one of the largest squares in Baku is named after Ukraine,” he said.
The president noted that relevant instructions have been given to develop a specific action program in all areas that were discussed.
Noting that there are plans in the energy field, which is a traditional area of cooperation, Aliyev stated that the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) intends to expand its activities in Ukraine.
“At present, SOCAR has an extensive network of filling stations in Ukraine, and, of course, the new steps in the export and processing of oil and oil products will further deepen our cooperation,” he said.
At the same time, the president underlined that the bilateral trade turnover increased by more than 20 percent last year, despite the pandemic, stressing the hope that it will reach the level of $1 billion, or even more, in the near future.
Aliyev highlighted the belief that the agreements on food security reached will allow Azerbaijan to ensure its food security to a greater extent.
He added that the groundwork has been laid for the establishment of joint ventures, joint activities related to the processing and export of agricultural products.
“This is a novelty. I think it is one of the most important steps in our relations in this area. We are open to cooperation in all other areas,” he said.
“I want to say again that our cooperation is based on friendly relations, and I do hope that this visit, which is taking place at the beginning of the year, will serve to complete this year with good results on a bilateral level and will provide a good basis for future years,” he added.
In turn, Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the result of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries gives high-quality substance to bilateral partnership.
“We have signed a Joint Declaration of presidents of Ukraine and Azerbaijan enshrining the commitment to provide reciprocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our countries within internationally recognized borders, joint efforts to combat hybrid threats, aspiration to maintain peace and security in the Black Sea and Caspian region and beyond,” he said.
Zelenskyy stressed that this and other items of the declaration testify to the unity and similarity of views on many issues and challenges.
He also added that six bilateral documents on cooperation, agriculture, energy, and trade were signed.
“Their implementation will simplify investment activity, which is very important. We have a lot of plans that we have extensively discussed with the President of Azerbaijan. It will also strengthen food and energy security, increase bilateral trade turnover... As evidenced by the new ambitious goal that we have determined which is to double the bilateral trade by 2024,” he said.
The president noted that the two countries also seek to increase the amount of bilateral investment in a number of joint large-scale projects.
“As early as the first part of this year we have agreed on holding a meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation. The next step is the organization of the meeting of the Council of Presidents of Ukraine, and Azerbaijan,” he said.
Noting that another topical issue is the development of transit potential and the creation of relevant cutting edge infrastructure, Zelenskyy noted the need to intensify bilateral cooperation in the field of international automobile, rail freight, as well as in the aviation field.
“We will continue working together on a number of initiatives such as the creation of transport corridor within the framework of GUAM bringing together Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova,” he said.
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